At a romance writers’ conference I attended earlier this year, I noticed authors wearing multiple name tags. Some had as many as five different pseudonyms. I wondered why so many pen names. In broaching the subject with one such author she said to me, “I’m known for paranormal romance and that’s what my readers expect, so when I write contemporary or romantic suspense I use a different name.” Now as I delve into writing a new series of children’s science education adventure, I realize Jewel Amethyst, the romance author is not very credible as an author of children’s stories… or is she?
I began to examine authors who have successfully crossed genres. I’m not talking only about subcategories of the same general genre, but totally different genres. Quite a few of them use different pseudonyms. As the author I spoke to at the conference explained, if an author is known for a specific genre, there is a certain reader expectation. John Grisham, for example, is known for legal drama. He tried crossing genres several times in books like “A Painted House,” and “Skipping Christmas” among others. I can’t tell if the books sold well, because his name would sell books, but I found some of his “other” genres quite disappointing. Not that the books weren’t written well, but because I expected something of him that I didn’t get.
Nora Roberts has successfully written several different subgenres of romance using various pen names, even keeping the identities separate for a while. But not all authors who successfully cross genres use different pseudonyms. James Patterson, known most for the Alex Cross series of suspense, has successfully published other genres without using a different pseudonym. Among his bestsellers was the Maximum Ride series of science fiction. He has also dappled in romance with “Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas” one of the sweet romances that I found to be a really refreshing change of pace, and “Sam’s Letters to Jennifer.” He has even written children’s and young adult novels, “Santa Kid” and “Middle School, the worst years of my life” all using the same name.
So as I embark on this new venture of publishing in the “children’s science education adventure” genre, I wrestle with the decision of authorship. Would Jewel Amethyst, the romance author with the exotic name be seen as a credible author of children’s science education fiction, or would J. A. Daniel, PhD be more credible?
What do you think?